By Phil Malone, Garrett Engineering And Robotics Society (GEARS) Inc., GArrett County, Maryland, United States
This Lesson plan describes SuGO, a very specific instance of Sumo Wrestling LEGO Robots. Notice the capitalization: it pays homage to both Sumo and LEGO.
SuGO was developed in 2006 by Phil Malone, a deep water robotics specialist, as a way to get kids excited about Science and Technology. Initially Phil used RCX’s but then later, he switched over to NXTs. The format was created to provide BOTH instant gratification AND long term STEM learning through regularly scheduled robotics events. SuGO Sundays have become a feeder for many of our area robotics teams.
SuGO provides a standardized platform for building and competing “SuGObots”, the name given to robots competing in a SuGO competition.
SuGObots are built using LEGO Mindstorms Kits, with the addition of one specialized “Sumo Eyes” sensor from Mindsensors.com. This sensor transforms a “dumb” pushing robot into a very smart and agile SuGObot.
SuGO is played on a raised 36” white ring with a 1” black border. The robots must conform to a maximum size standard (7” x 7” x unlimited) and weigh less than 1lb 10oz.
Since most kids start out loving to build with LEGOs, and then develop programming skills later, several “standard” SuGO programs have been created to enable competitions to focus on the Science and Engineering of constructing a rugged, agile and determined SuGObot.
Teams build their SuGObots, and then compete in a double elimination tournament to determine the Champion. Each time they compete, they evolve their design, learn and apply new STEM lessons.
SuGO has been used successfully in a variety of school and non-school activities, including in-class lessons, after-school programs, club-based competitions and open competitions for the general public. In addition to the fun and educational aspects of the program, SuGO can also be used by robotics teams for STEM related fundraising activities.
The ideal age group for SuGO is 8-14 years. As older teens develop beyond the basic competition aspect of SuGO, they can be re-integrated as helpers, mentors or competition officials.
Without fail, by the end of a SuGO activity, all the participants are getting loud and cheering on their robots, having forgotten that they are learning valuable STEM lessons.
A variety of materials are included in this plan. These materials have evolved over the past 6 years, and they are also available for download on the www.SuGObot.comwebsite. Each application of SuGO is different, but these materials have been specifically developed to enable any group to run a full SuGO competition event.
Some of the included items are essential for a successful SuGO activity (like the “Mechanic” program that verifies correct NXT wiring and sensor placement), whereas others items are optional (like the Champion and Runner-Up award bookmarks).
We always say that there are “no instructions” for building a SuGObot because we want participants to stretch their imaginations, but this isn’t strictly true. We have developed build instructions for a “Simple SuGObot” which is a great place for novices to begin. It’s also handy for “Speed SuGO” where you have a limited time to get a group of new kids started in robotics. They can start with the Simple SuGObot, and then customize it to fit their own unique style.
The “SuGO for K12LAB” zip file contains a directory structure organized into several folders. These are generally as follows: